The holidays are upon us, which means one question is being asked by Netflix subscribers everywhere: Which Original Netflix Christmas Movies are actually worth the time to watch? The question is a bit more complicated than the newcomer to made-for-TV Christmas movies may realize, so we've taken it upon ourselves to explain which of Netflix's movies are the absolute best to start watching now - and which ones should be slid lower down the queue.
We've already broken down the absolute worse Christmas movies on Netflix, so these Originals should be given credit as the best of the best. And we would obviously hope so, with Netflix recruiting Kurt Russell as Santa Claus, and taking more than one not-so-subtle shot at Hallmark's Christmas movies with an eerily similar premise. The selections vary from spirit-inspiring Christmas adventure to making us wonder how quickly the holidays were ignored in favor of a royal wedding, and everywhere in between (and yes, our Hallmark Christmas Drinking Game works just as well for Netflix movies, too).
So without further ado, we present Netflix's Original Christmas Movies, Ranked Worst To Best.
6. A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding
The surprise sequel to Netflix's first Original Christmas movie, A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding makes its main problem known in the title. Granted, the first movie was made with a clear enough sense of fun to forgive the sidelining of a real "Christmas" feel, in favor of royal family intrigue. The same is true for the sequel, but even without commercial breaks, trying to deliver a satisfying holiday story while competing with the an economic crisis in Aldovia AND the stress of a state wedding is impossible.
There's certainly more of what the original offered, so those Netflix users who watched A Christmas Prince every day for a month should be happy. But if we're being honest, keeping the word "Christmas" in the film's title is more of a formality than a sign of what it's actually aiming for. More of a reunion and second party with characters, a sense of humor, and an at-times self-aware approach to royal melodrama is always a recipe for entertainment. All things considered, the film may highlight the inherent problem with planning a wedding on Christmas, period. It does, however, have the ugliest Christmas tree we've ever seen. Which is better than nothing.
5. The Holiday Calendar
The casting of Vampire Diaries star Kat Graham is a good sign of the tone being targeted for The Holiday Calendar, and Netflix deserves credit for taking nowhere near as long as Hallmark in casting non-Caucasian actors for their holiday tale. The basic premise is exactly what Christmas movies fans will be after: young woman is gifted an Advent Calendar that once belonged to her grandmother, and soon finds the items inside coinciding with a holiday quest for new romance. Which is what makes the movie's shift away from its title object a bit disappointing.
With Netflix forced to choose between a story of Christmas magic and a CW-esque love triangle, the holiday magic never really stood a chance. Still, ACTRESS is as charming as ever, and the movie is still technically set at Christmas, with all of the beloved family traditions and window dressing. So even if The Holiday Calendar isn't "about Christmas" at all, it's going to have plenty of fans.
4. A Christmas Prince
The movie that started it all for Netflix's current crop of holiday-themed original movies, and one which remains superior to the sequel (like so many impossible-to-follow classics). The story of an everyday New Yorker going undercover in the royal family of an unspecified English(?) nation may have been old hat to Hallmark veterans, but Netflix struck gold. With Rose McIver starring in what turned out to be National Treasure: Undercover Christmas at the Palace and matched with Ben Lamb's brooding - but in an English way - the feels were real, the romance up to snuff, and the intrigue positively palpable.
A Christmas Prince still works as a standalone film, which manages to be equally about the Christmas holidays AND finding love with a soon-to-be king. Is it as good as Iron Man? No. But is it as important to history, as an enjoyable success that launched Netflix's game-changing Christmas Movie Universe? Definitely. We would call it a guilty pleasure, but... we don't feel guilty about it at all.
Page 2 of 2: The BEST Netflix Original Christmas Movies
3. The Princess Switch
Certainly boasting the most star power out of Netflix's Original, romance-themed Christmas films, Vanessa Hudgens pulls double duty as a buttoned-up Chicago baker in need of some regal romance, AND a future princess in desperate need of some time away from the pressures of her approaching wedding. The best possible solution? Body Swap (Drink!). Well, not a body swap, just sneakily replacing eachother in their respective lives for a holiday caper. Less Freaky Friday, more It Takes Two.
If we're being fair, The Princess Switch is more a story set at Christmas than actually about Christmas, specifically. But that can't diminish the charm Hudgens brings to both roles... and then the roles again, when the leads attempt to mimic the other. And considering the audience is likely looking for some compassion, charity, and generosity regardless of which 'holiday' it's branded as, the difference might be splitting hairs. The prince in question (Nashville's Sam Palladio) elevates the royal romance angle, but The Princess Switch is worth watching for the simple, visceral joy of watching Hudgens give her best impression of what a refined European aristocrat thinks a "normal American" looks like in casual conversation.
2. Christmas Inheritance
Finally, a Netflix Original movie that knows it has two brands of "heartwarming" to hit - chemistry and compassion - and finds the mark equally well. It's not an understatement to say that Christmas Inheritance works because it has The 100's Eliza Taylor for a lead, proving more than up to the task from start to finish. Cast as a wealthy heiress forced to find the true meaning of the holidays after being dispatched to the small town where her father's empire began, Hallmark has some serious competition. And wouldn't you know it, she just might find love along the way, too.
Fair warning, though: for all the boxes Christmas Inheritance checks by the end, many are achieved despite the film actively working against Taylor's inherent sincerity and charm. The biggest offenders? A romantic lead who takes the expected "big city dismay" to extremes of open hostility and rudeness, and a "bad boyfriend" who ascends to being emotionally abusive, proving that a more restrained formula is a formula for a reason. Not to mention a snow-covered town looking more like it was blanketed by an explosion at the marshmallow creme factory down the road.
Andie MacDowell makes up for most of it in a supporting role, and if viewers have any doubts, just keep your eyes peeled for a teaser of Inheritance being watched by one of Holiday Calendar's cast.
1. The Christmas Chronicles
Leave your holiday romances and Christmas scrooge behind, Netflix subscribers, because there was never a chance that the Kurt Russell-led The Christmas Chronicles wouldn't take the top spot on this list. What may appear to be stunt casting, on top of the unsettling idea of "furry, CGI elves," turns out to be a family-friendly Christmas movie somehow plucked out of our childhood and onto Netflix's dashboard. And frankly, a strong argument that Kurt Russell might actually BE Santa Claus.
Jokes aside, it only takes a half hour or so to wonder why this movie, or its premise, hasn't already been adapted countless times over. The less said about the plot the better the surprise, so we'll simply say it earns its spot among holiday comedies like The Santa Clause, Scrooged, or even National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. The sense that this Netflix Original is a combination of Home Alone and Adventures in Babysitting makes sense, when you realize it's produced by Chris Columbus, who directed both.
So perhaps it's the best compliment possible to say director Clay Kaytis (The Angry Birds Movie) has crafted a worthy companion, leaving behind the animation departments of Frozen and Tangled for live-action. And with over 20 million views already, we would be shocked if The Christmas Chronicles isn't the start of a new holiday franchise.
These movies and more can be found streaming exclusively on Netflix.